Working remotely was already gaining popularity in London and the rest of the UK long before the Coronavirus pandemic struck. In fact, back in 2015, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) predicted that by 2020 around half of us – small to medium-sized businesses included – would be working remotely, simply because we could do so wherever we could access WiFi. But with the arrival of Covid-19, and London and the rest of the nation going into lockdown, the number of us working remotely – particularly from home – has massively increased. Which has caused many small business owners to ask the question ‘How can we secure our home office for remote working?’
When it comes to IT and data security the objective is to deploy and utilise in our homes the tools and privacy protocols we take for granted in our workplaces. Typically, this isn’t as expensive or complicated as you might imagine – a number of the actions you can take and resources you can benefit from are as good as cost-free. However, they still provide an extra layer of protection to mitigate the possibility of cybercrime, data breaches, and malware.
Remember that cybersecurity is today considered a mission-critical issue for every kind of enterprise, in every sector. What’s more, the dangers and risks rise alarmingly when you and your staff members work from home.
Don’t worry, your ‘How can we secure our home office for remote working’ checklist starts here
In this article we’ll provide the first in our four-part ‘How we can secure our home office for remote working’ checklist. It will give you and your team the hints, tips, best practices and deployments you need to keep your IT infrastructure and data safe and secure while you all work from home.
We’ll provide details on each new topic or two in our checklist every few days. In this first part, you’ll discover:
- Home office security checklist for remote workers
- Securing your Wi-Fi
- Securing your network (Internet)
- Further security with Domain Name System (DNS)
- How to find out more
Home office security checklist for remote workers
Here, in its entirety, is our home office security checklist for your remotely working team. But in this first part of four parts, we’re going to cover off the two top items.
- Securing your Wi-Fi and Internet
- Protect Internet browsing with a DNS provider
- Update your operating system to the latest version
- Install and use the latest antivirus/malware protection
- Develop strong passwords and use a password management tool
- Move administrator rights to a separate account
- Use Cloud backup
Securing your Wi-Fi
In most of our homes here in London, we don’t have the protection or benefit offered by Cloud-connected hardware, such as a Meraki firewall, so once you’re working from home your Wi-Fi can be vulnerable to cybercrime.
Two factors exacerbate this vulnerability: you may have other family members in lockdown and working from home alongside you and your typical consumer user, big brand name and Internet Services Provider (ISP) supplied routers have serious security flaws.
However, there are several ways you can make your home-based wireless network more safe and secure.
The best way to reduce the risk of a data breach or your IT being impacted by malware is to either upgrade to an enterprise-quality router or deploy mesh Wi-Fi. Mesh Wi-Fi networks enable you to add additional units to expand coverage throughout your home to ensure your devices enjoy access at the fastest possible speeds. And as mesh Wi-Fi is driven by Cloud-enabled software, it continuously scans for issues and blocks threats at the DNS (Domain Name System – see below) level.
Securing your network (Internet)
If you can’t update your Wi-Fi set up, now’s the time to take these steps to secure your network:
- Change the administrative credentials from the default settings
Change your default username and password (ie those that came with your equipment) on your router. Take a quick look at your instruction manual/user guide or try a Google search for your router model, to find instructions on how to do this.
- Change the default network name or SSID
Change this to something unique and without a name or even a clue that identifies you.
- Enable WPA2 wireless encryption
Do this so that only authorised users can access your network.
- Keep your router up to date
Install new firmware for your router whenever it becomes available to ensure you have the latest security patches onboard. In fact, log into your router’s administrative interface every now and then to check if there are any updates and make them. Note that newer routers, including most mesh versions, will automatically update their firmware.
- Set your router’s frequency band
Set up your router to use the 5-GHz band for Wi-Fi if possible, instead of the more common 2.4-GHz band. The 5-GHz band transmits more data, faster, but has a shorter range.
Further security with Domain Name System (DNS)
If you’re going to secure your home router and Wi-Fi, it makes absolute sense to take the next step and use safe DNS.
DNS works by providing an additional layer of protection between each of your team and the Internet by blacklisting dangerous sites and filtering out unwanted content, thus reducing risk and the potential for malicious attack.
Unfortunately, while DNS services offer added security and protection, they haven’t yet been implemented by every ISP on their DNS servers, although some names – like Verisign, OpenDNS and Google Public DNS – do provide detection and filtering software to prevent harmful content and malware.
How to find out more
We’ll be posting parts two, three, and four of our home office security checklist for your remote workers in the coming days – so please do watch this space.
In the meantime, if yours is a small to medium-sized business based here in London and you’d like help with cyber and data security for your remote workers, please don’t hesitate to call us. With Feefo Gold Trusted Service Awards, Five Star ratings from both Trustpilot and Google, and a 98% client retention rate, we’ve become the go-to IT support team for London, and we’d be delighted to guide you with confidential and no-obligation advice.